The majority of miners tend to focus their efforts on mining bitcoins, without getting distracted towards other cryptocurrencies. Though, a fairly decent number of miners have switched their attention to mining Ethereum. A large number of promising coins, however, may offer a far greater return on investments than bitcoins and Ethereum are capable of nowadays. One of such coins is Zcash, and our article will focus on Zcash mining hardware and software – the two key things needed to get started in mining Zcash.
What Is Known About Zcash?
Zcash was created in the late 2016 as a cryptocurrency that aimed to provide a better privacy to the users. Then, the Zerocoin protocol became the basis of the Zcash cryptocurrency. The development of the protocol and cryptocurrency was carried out by Zerocoin Electric Coin Company, which is often referred to as Zcash Company.
As it was mentioned, a particular feature of Zcash is that this cryptocurrency allows transactions with an enhanced privacy. This blockchain allows you to hide the recipient, sender, and the amount of cryptocurrencies that was sent. Moreover, Zcash, similar to bitcoin, has a total cap of 21 million coins in total. During the first four years, 20% of all mined coins will be allocated to developers, investors, and a non-profit organization.
There are two types of transactions that can be carried out in this blockchain: bitcoin-like transactions that are transparent and shielded transactions that are controlled and protected by a t-addr. Even though Zcash coins can be either in a shielded pool or in a transparent pool, there are no more than 4% of Zcash coins that are allocated in shielded pools at the present time. Moreover, the majority of wallets (and no web wallets) support t-addrs.
At the time of writing this article, the price of Zcash almost equaled $500 per coin. From the late November 2017 up to the mid January 2018 the cryptocurrency experienced a noticeable spike in the price. At the present time, this coin tends to be one of the most promising cryptocurrencies in the market.
What’s the Difference Between Mining Zcash and Mining Bitcoin/Ethereum
So, why would one buy Zcash mining hardware and software in order to mine Zcash coins, if there is a proven formula of mining bitcoins and Ethereum? Well, there are several reasons, and they make mining Zcash especially lucrative.
First of all, the technology that stands behind bitcoin is quite inflexible and doesn’t allow to utilize it elsewhere except of digital payments. Indeed, the same stands for Zcash, but this technology is far more advanced, as it allows anonymous transactions. Secondly, Zcash (same as bitcoin) has a cap of all coins that may be mined – that means that there can exist only 21 million coins. That, in turn, implies that this cryptocurrency is a deflationary one and is presumably going to grow in value and price.
After all, mining bitcoins have become quite tough, as almost every miner has joined the hardware race. In order to enter bitcoin mining, you need to invest a pretty large sum. The Zcash mining entry barrier is far lower than bitcoin’s and Ethereum’s, as you can mine Zcash even with videocards of 1 GB VRAM (the minimum requirement for Ethereum is 3 GB, which is likely to grow to 4 GB this year). Considering that the competition in mining Zcash is pretty low yet, you can take advantage of it and mine a good deal of Zcash coins.
After all, if you have previously mined other cryptocurrencies (like bitcoins or Ethereum) but your hardware tends to be outdated for mining those cryptos, you can apply it for mining Zcash. As you will learn in this article, requirements for Zcash mining hardware are not as high as for other, more “advanced” cryptos.
Why One Should Consider Mining Zcash
Prior to choosing Zcash mining hardware and software, one should understand the basics of Zcash mining and why this enterprise is worth it at all. At this point of our article, we will review the key reasons that make Zcash mining worthwhile and appealing. So, the following are the reasons why you should consider mining Zcash:
- Mining Zcash with low-end videocards can be a way of financing the purchase of more powerful hardware for mining Zcash or other cryptocurrencies.
- Considering that Zcash is traded against bitcoin, mining Zcash is a way to open a position in bitcoins.
- Mining can be quite an easy and cheap way to enter the Zcash market.
- During the last year, Zcash has been one of the most promising altcoin markets.
Zcash Mining Hardware: CPU or GPU
Zcash is one of those cryptocurrencies that can be mined with CPU yet. At the very beginning of Zcash in the early 2016, you could easily and very effectively mine Zcash coins with CPU (central processing units). Similar as with other cryptocurrencies, however, Zcash mining has advanced and is far more profitable when you mine with GPU (graphic processing units).
It is still possible to mine Zcash with CPUs, though, but it will be a low-return mining. Therefore, it would be far better to mine Zcash with GPUs. There are two key players in this market: AMD and NVidia. Our article about Ethereum mining hardware and software contains a review of a handful of latest videocards from NVidia and AMD. Down in this article, however, we will review budget videocards that will allow you to mine Zcash conveniently.
You should also keep in mind that the Zcash blockchain utilizes a hashing algorithm known as Equihash. This algorithm makes it impossible to mine Zcash with ASICs that have been developed for mining bitcoins. On the other hand, this algorithm makes mining coins with GPU the best way of mining, while it also ensures a far greater privacy (similar to the one of Monero and Dash).
Key Criteria for Choosing Zcash Mining Hardware
In order to choose the proper Zcash mining hardware and estimate profitability and ROI, you should define key criteria that will determine the efficiency of each videocard. Similar as in the case with Ethereum mining, there can be the following basic criteria:
Price. The upfront price you pay for a videocard is a one-time payment, which will have to be paid back. Yet, the higher is the price of a videocard, the more efficient and productive it is going to be. Therefore, don’t necessarily fall for cheap Zcash mining hardware, which will burn tons of electricity but will leave you with few Zcash coins (but also don’t be hooked by the merchants who sell overpriced hardware).
Hash rate. This indicator displays how many hashes can be carried out by a videocard within a second. It can be improved, though, if you overclock your videocard. Hashing power is calculated in H/s, Kh/s, Mh/s, Gh/s, and Th/s (from the lowest to the highest).
Power draw. This indicator shows how much electricity a videocard consumes during the mining process. Obviously, the lower this indicator will be, the lower will be your regular costs.
Efficiency. Efficiency is calculated by dividing the hash rate by the power draw indicator. It shows how much hashes are made during a certain expenditure of electricity.
This way, you should find a balance between the price, power draw, and efficiency. Our article will also contain other additional indicators (such as the average payback period and an expected return percentage), which will help you to make your choice better. Also, once you have made a choice regarding the videocard, don’t forget to calculate your future revenues and the payback period by using Zcash mining calculator.
Minimal Requirements for Zcash Mining Hardware
Even though Zcash doesn’t require as powerful Zcash mining hardware as it would be needed for mining bitcoins or Ethereum, there are still minimal requirements that your PC has to match. The videocard of your PC must be at least of 1 GB – that is a substantially lower number than the one needed for mining Ethereum or bitcoin. Yet, you should also make sure that your videocard is efficient enough and doesn’t just waste energy.
Zcash Mining Hardware: Videocards
In this section of our article about Zcash mining hardware you will get to know about the best videocards for mining Zcash. As it was mentioned above, the requirements for mining Zcash are quite lower than the ones for mining Ethereum. So, you can even apply old videocards that you used for mining Ethereum, yet that got outdated for mining Ethereum (the minimum requirement for videocards is going to be 4 GB in 2018). But, indeed, more sophisticated videocards (the ones that you can find here) will also be suitable for mining Zcash, yet it may be less profitable – there tends to be a shortage of such videocards, which causes a spike in the prices.
Radeon Rx 480
The AMD R9 RX-480 videocard is a perfect choice for gamers, but will also be enough suitable for mining Zcash. While this videocard consumes much less electricity than such serious competitors R9 390X, it tends to be easily capable of taking it on. And even though this card tends to be a couple of generations older than the majority in the market, its productiveness makes this card to be a perfect Zcash mining hardware.
While the card tends to be outdated for mining Ethereum and other more famed coins, it nicely suits for mining Zcash. The price of around $199 is a guarantee that you will not overpay for a card, as this card is not in a high demand anymore. All in all, this is a good choice if you are hunting for a low-end videocards for Zcash mining.
Hashrate: 220 H/s
Power Draw: 150 W
VRAM: 8 GB (GDDR5)
Average Payback Period: 250 days
Annual Return Percentage: 145%.
NVidia GeForce GTX 1080 TI
While this videocard from NVidia may be far more expensive than the previous one from AMD, it may be a fairly good choice for selecting it for your Zcash mining hardware. There are several reasons to do so. Even though the initial investments are far higher than with AMD Rx 480, the videocard is far more powerful than that version from AMD. That makes the payback period of these two cards pretty same, which makes investing in this videocard from NVidia worthwhile.
Once you have returned your initial investments from this card, using it for your Zcash mining hardware will be far more profitable over the next periods. This draws attention of many miners exactly to this card. Yet, one should be aware that NVidia cards tend to draw more electricity than the competitors from AMD, and this videocard is not an exception. All in all, if you have funds for such an initial investment, it tends to be pretty worthwhile in the long run.
Hashrate: 680 H/s
Power Draw: 250 W
VRAM: 11 GB (GDDR5X)
Average Payback Period: 252 days
Annual Return Percentage: 144%.
NVidia MSI P106-100 6GB
If you are still looking for a low-end Zcash mining hardware, this card from NVidia may definitely attract your attention. NVidia MSI P106-100 combines low price with a pretty strong hash rate (far better than in the AMD’s card), and an extremely low power draw – the latter is, indeed, very surprising as for an NVidia card.
Even though this card tends to be quite outdated (as its VRAM is just 6 GB), this also ensures that there is no high demand for this type of videocards, which, in turns, allows to benefit from quite a low price. Also, it is worth pointing out that the power draw is even lower than in the AMD cards, which is really great for the miners in the countries with expensive electricity. After all, the average payback period of this card tends to be higher than of the cards that were mentioned above, and this is another reason to consider applying this card for your Zcash mining hardware. Extra cooling features allow it to function 24/7 without problems.
Hashrate: 290 H/s
Power Draw: 100 W
VRAM: 6 GB (GDDR5)
Average Payback Period: 186 days
Annual Return Percentage: 195%.
Zcash Mining Software
Once you are done with selecting, purchasing, and installing Zcash mining hardware, you also need to install and configure Zcash mining software. This section of our guide will show you what Zcash mining software you need for mining this coin step by step.
- Get drivers for your Zcash mining hardware. Depending on what kind of hardware you have installed, you will need drivers for it. If you have Zcash mining hardware from NVidia, you can find the drivers on this page. If you have AMD cards, then the drivers (which tend to be a part of Zcash mining software) for AMD can be found here.
- Get Zcash wallet and address. When it comes to such an issue as Zcash mining software, you also definitely need a Zcash wallet where you will receive your Zcash coins. Once you have got a wallet, you will also get a Zcash address, which is needed for receiving coins. You can find links and descriptions of the best wallets for Zcash on this page of our website.
- You need to install the actual Zcash mining software. In order to mine Zcash coins, you need such a Zcash mining software like the EWBF miner. You can download that program here.
- Specify the settings of your Windows OS. The first thing you should do in order not to let your mining be failed is to disable the Sleep Mode – if your computer gets in the Sleep Mode, the mining will be suspended. Then, you should also set the system page file to 16 GB (16384 MB), After all, exclude the EWBF miner from the program that must be checked by your antivirus software.
- Choose a pool, join it, and start mining. The first and the last thing about the Zcash mining software is joining a pool. There are pretty many pools for mining Zcash on the web, but one that is recommended by many miners is Flypool. On the website of a pool, you will find the instructions that you will have to stick to in order to configure your Zcash mining software properly. Once you have configured your software to start mining in a pool, give a double-click to the bat file of the mining software in order to run the miner!